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The Before Baby Relationship Checkup: A Couples-Based Intervention to Reduce Relationship Risk Factors for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Abstract

Relationship conflict and lack of partner support are risk factors for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. An intervention to strengthen couples’ relationships before birth may reduce relationship risk factors for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, though no research has explored this to date. The aims of this Stage 1 open-series non-experimental proof of concept study were to adapt the ‘Marriage Checkup’, an evidence-based intervention for relationship distress, as a preventative intervention for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and to assess its feasibility and acceptability. Pregnant women receiving care at a university-based obstetric practice, and their partners, were recruited. Ten couples participated in the Before Baby Relationship Checkup, a personalized relationship health service offered in the obstetric clinic. Quantitative and qualitative data gathered suggests the intervention is feasible to implement in an obstetric setting, and acceptable to perinatal couples. Specific adaptations to the Marriage Checkup for perinatal couples are warranted and further testing is needed to evaluate efficacy.

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Correspondence to Ellen V. Darling.

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All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5). Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

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Darling, E.V., Byatt, N., Maher, E.L. et al. The Before Baby Relationship Checkup: A Couples-Based Intervention to Reduce Relationship Risk Factors for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. J Clin Psychol Med Settings (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10880-021-09819-8

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Keywords

  • Intimate relationships
  • Preventative interventions
  • Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders
  • Couples
  • Co-located behavioral health